43-year-old Anthony Karsten entered in a plea of not guilty to first degree murder today. His bail was set at $1 million. Karsten is accused of strangling 25-year-old Jessica Hayes in her Bakersfield apartment.
He told friends and family he knew how to kill someone and get away with it. Now, three years after his former girlfriend was strangled to death in her Bakersfield apartment, the 43-year-old is in the Kern County Jail, charged with first-degree murder.
Jessica Hayes, 25, was strangled to death in June 2015 and as the years went by, her family worried the case never would be solved.
Anthony Karsten was arrested early Tuesday morning and booked into the Kern County Jail on charges of first-degree murder.
Hayes’ family says Karsten was Hayes’ senior petty officer and mentor when they served together in the Navy in San Diego. That relationship evolved to romance and she moved to Bakersfield to be with him after they both left the service.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the former sailors. Hayes’ mother, Gladys Arbuckle, says Hayes eventually discovered Karsten was married with two children in San Diego. Hayes’ family told 17’s Olivia LaVoice that Karsten swore he was in the process of getting divorced and promised Hayes she was “the one.”
Hayes didn’t buy it. She moved out and by May, 2015 had her own apartment and a new boyfriend. She’d completed schooling to become a dental hygienist and was weeks away from earning her associate’s degree in business.
But, family told LaVoice, Karsten wasn’t letting go.
Court documents show on May 24, 2015 Karsten was arrested outside of Hayes’ new apartment. Reports say Karsten admitted to officers that he showed up unannounced, and saw Hayes walking out of the apartment with a male friend. According to reports, Karsten refused to let the male get in his car and blocked the man’s vehicle. Hayes told officers Karsten was aggressive toward her friend, causing him to eventually flee on foot.
Police were called and Karsten was arrested after officers found a loaded gun in his car. He served one day in jail on a misdemeanor firearm charge.
A month later, officers were back at Hayes’ apartment.
This time, it was murder.
Documents say on June 30, 2015, Hayes’ new boyfriend received a text message from her around 4 a.m.
The text said, “oh my God, Anthony is here WTF.”
That was the last time anyone heard from her. Later that day, Hayes’ new boyfriend and close friend went to Hayes’ apartment and asked the manager to open her door. Inside, court documents say, they found her dead on the floor.
She had been strangled with her own belt.
Her cell phone was missing, and the killer had locked the door behind himself.
It wasn’t long before investigators learned the Anthony in that last text message was her ex-boyfriend, Anthony Karsten.
As detectives combed through the crime scene, Karsten arrived at the apartment complex. When questioned by police, he denied being at Hayes’ apartment earlier. He was living in Tulare County and told investigators he drove to Bakersfield late the morning of the killing. That would have been hours after the “oh my God, Anthony is here” text was sent.
Documents say about a year after the murder, DNA from the belt used to strangle Hayes was identified.
The only two DNA profiles located were Hayes’ and Karsten’s.
When detectives interviewed Karsten’s family and friends, reports say everyone told the same tale of jealously and rage. His family told investigators Karsten had told Hayes, “if you ever leave me, you’re dead.” He told others that if he couldn’t have Hayes, no one could. Reports say he made comments about knowing how to kill someone and get away with it. He also reportedly asked friends and family, “how dare she leave me?”
When investigators examined Karsten’s cell phone they found he had cleared the memory of his phone within hours of the killing.
Investigators later found that Karsten had checked into the Hampton Inn on Oak Street at about 6 a.m. the day of the killing. He never disclosed that when initially questioned by detectives.
Hayes’ family says within days of the murder, Karsten moved back in with his wife and children in their home in San Diego County.
He was booked into the downtown jail Tuesday morning, charged with first-degree murder and held without bail.
Jessica Hayes was buried with full military honors in her hometown in Tennessee.